Mikveh Yisrael by Rabbi Menashe ben Israel
First Hebrew Edition
A sefer detailing the discovery of the Ten lost Tribes and Sambatyon River by the famed scholar Rabbi Menashe ben Israel. This was the first edition of Mikveh Yisrael printed in lashon hakodesh.
The Ten Lost Tribes
Prior to the destruction of the First Temple, the Ten Tribes were led into exile by the Assyrian king Sancherev and their whereabouts are unknown until this very day. Rabbi Menashe ben Israel, a 17th century Jewish scholar and statesman who endeavored greatly to better the lives of Jews throughout the Diaspora, devoted many years of his life to researching the fate of the Ten Lost Tribes. He published his findings in his work Mikveh Yisrael, which is regarded as the most scholarly and well-researched work ever printed regarding the lost tribes.
Following years of research and inquiry, Rabbi Menashe ben Israel concluded that the Ten Lost Tribes ultimately ended up in South America, where many of the local Indian tribes were influenced by their customs and rituals (see leaf 18a).
A substantial portion of his conclusions are based on the first-hand testimony of Aharon Halevi de Montezenos, a Spanish converso who returned to his Jewish roots and arrived in Holland by boat from India. Throughout years of tumultuous journeys, Montezenos visited South America where he encountered locals who faithfully guarded ancient Jewish traditions such as circumcision, family purity and more. Leaves 5-12 of the book presents the testimony of Aharon Halevi under the title “Maase Rav min Aharon Halevi HaSephardi”.
One of the main reasons that Rabbi Menashe ben Israel authored this sefer was to imbue the shattered descendants of Spanish and Portuguese anusim, some of whom settled in South America, with hope for the ultimate redemption.
This work also includes fascinating geographical and historical information regarding the American continent and its residents.
The present sefer Mikveh Yisrael is bound together with Mas’os shel Rabbi Binyamin HaRofeh, a captivating journal detailing the travels of the medieval Rabbi Binyamin of Tudela across the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as Jewish centers. This work was published in the same year in Amsterdam by Rabbi Elyakim of Komarno who also translated Mikveh Yisrael into lashon hakodesh, (but printed it in a different publishing house). Rabbi Elyakim bounded both books together and disseminated them as a single unit.
Amsterdam, 1698. First Hebrew edition. Page Count: Mikveh Yisrael: 66 leaves; Mas’os Binyamin: 26 leaves. Page Size: Small format: 10.4 cm. Condition: Good; margins on several pages are cropped until the edge of the letters. New leather binding. Rare.
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